Sherborne Museum

Sherborne Museum next to part of the old town wall

The Sherborne Museum is centrally located in Church Lane that runs from the Conduit in the market place to the Abbey. Founded in 1968 by members of Sherborne Historical Society, the Museum occupies what used to be the gatehouse and almonry associated with the former Benedictine monastery. It is now a Grade II listed building. From the outset, it aimed to preserve local heritage for the people of Sherborne and represents the town’s geological, historical, social and industrial development from prehistory to recent times, as well as its natural history. The museum  is fully accredited and entirely run by volunteers.

Highlights include a unique medieval wall painting discovered in Long Street, fossils from the Inferior Oolite, a touch-screen version of the exquisite Sherborne Missal (one of the finest examples of International High Gothic illuminated manuscripts), tools from forgotten crafts, silk and gloving displays, two hundred watercolours of local flora by the pioneering Edwardian artist Diana Ruth Wilson, a famous dolls’ house and an Oral History booth where you can listen to voices from the past relating  everyday lives. The Museum also displays temporary exhibitions created from extensive reserve collections so there is always something new to see, in addition to well-loved favourites. Local schools are often involved in setting up these displays, such as the Olympic and Jubilee exhibits of 2012.

Parkinsonia ammonite

There is a vast photographic archive which, combined with postcards and an art collection, form one of the largest private collections of images of a small town anywhere in the country. One of the latest projects is to digitalise this collection and make it accessible to the public by means of a touch-screen mounted on a podium; it will be possible to take orders to reproduce any image for a modest fee. Another recent project is the creation of a Sensory Trail, intended to enhance the experience of any visitor. The Museum is grateful for the help received from students of the Gryphon School who helped create handling trays of local geological specimens and who came up with such excellent ideas as the “tactile textile pillow” and the “olfactory cookbook” where you can smell recipes from the Iron Age to the 17th century by means of special sachets of herbs and spices secured to its pages.

For those visitors unable to take the stairs there is a virtual tour of the upstairs galleries on DVD.

Detail from the Seige of Sherborne Castle

School visits are actively encouraged and in October 2012 the Museum was awarded the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge whereby teachers can be guaranteed a safe and enriching educational experience for their pupils, with knowledgeable stewards on hand for guidance if necessary. The Museum has also signed up to the “Kids in Museums” manifesto pledging to create child-friendly exhibits and text and to listen to children’s suggestions about what they would like to see in the Museum. There is a range of handling boxes which can be loaned to schools for up to half a term and work-experience opportunities are available for older students.

Gloving display

Admission is  free. Opening times are from the first Tuesday before Easter to a few days before Christmas Tues-Sat 10.30 – 4.30. During the winter the Museum opens on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 10.30-12.30.  The museum is also open on every 4th Sunday of the month from 10.30am to 1 pm. It is closed throughout January.


Forthcoming Events : 2019

Thursday 21 February, 11 am – 2 pm: Finds and archaeology activity day

Particularly aimed at kids during the half-term holiday, this is a great activity session based on local archaeological finds with the County Finds Liaison Officer, Ciorstaidh Trevarthen.

This is a free family event, though donations will be welcome.

Tuesday 16 April, 11 am – 2 pm: Those Glorious Georgians

Find out all about this age of elegance and time of wonders with Gordon LePard, the “Mad Victorian Scientist” who has miraculously transformed himself into a Regency dandy.

Plenty to see, handle and to be enthralled by!

Admission free, donations welcomed.

Monday 20 May, 10am – 12 noon, Cheap Street Methodist Church Hall: Coffee Morning

A fundraiser for Sherborne Museum.

A fun and sociable event to include a variety of stalls including bric-a-brac, books, plants and refreshments.

Find out more about your local museum and browse souvenirs from our shop.

A raffle will also be held with super prizes.

Thursday 30 May, 11 am – 2 pm: Hold an Owl Day

Cherry and The Blackmore Vale Owls are back due to popular demand!

Everyone remembers huge-eyed Bebo the tawny owl and Eddi the graceful barn owl. Who will Cherry bring this time?

Admission free, £5 to hold an owl under supervision (proceeds will be split between the museum and the owl sanctuary)

Monday 5 August 11 am – 1 pm: Messy Museum Monday

Lots of glitter, glue and sticky stuff as we welcome younger children to our activity, painting and craft session.

Older children and adults (if they’re brave enough!) can participate in indoor and outdoor treasure trails or browse the exhibitions

Admission free, donations welcomed.

Friday 25 October 7pm, Digby Memorial Hall: Sherborne Museum’s Big Fat Autumn Quiz

You all enjoyed this so much last year we were begged to put on another one!

Come and join in with our fun general knowledge quiz with a smattering of questions about the Dorset you know and love. Teams of up to 6 are encouraged or you can book individually and we will introduce you to a team.

Light refreshments will be available but please bring your own drink and glasses.

Doors open from 6.30 pm.   Tickets are £5 pp in advance from Sherborne Tourist Information Centre from 1st October. Tel: 01935 815341.

For further details see the Museum website  or contact the Tourist Information Office.

Sherborne Museum
Church Lane

Telephone: +44 (0)1935 812 252


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